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Former Lancaster County Drug Task Force leader sentenced for theft

John Burkhart will also serve four years of probation and has been ordered to pay back $140,000 in restitution as part of his sentence

May 5, 2023

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The former officer in charge of the Lancaster County Drug Task Force was sentenced to 8 to 22 months in prison for stealing money seized by the task force, Attorney General Michelle Henry says.

John Burkhart will also serve four years of probation and has been ordered to pay back $140,000 in restitution as part of his sentence announced Thursday.

Burkhart pleaded guilty to various charges, including theft by deception and theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, in March and will serve his prison time in Adams County.

Investigators with the Office of the Attorney General say Burkhart stole cash and did not deposit funds during a civil asset forfeiture process in several criminal cases.

"Mr. Burkhart took an oath to serve and protect, but instead used his position of authority to steal funds that could have gone toward treatment initiatives and enforcement of drug trafficking laws," Attorney General Henry said.

"This is a sad day in the history of the Lancaster County Drug Task Force. The criminal justice system is largely built around the proposition that police officers are telling the truth. Telling the truth in their reports. Telling the truth when they testify. And telling the truth when they speak to the public. Fortunately, the vast, vast majority of police do tell the truth. But this case strikes at the heart of that trust that society places in police officers. Mr. Burkhart stole a large amount of money from the citizens of Lancaster County. He did this at the same time that he was also calling for more and more money for the Drug Task Force, opposing any attempts at transparency over the Drug Task Force finances, and blaming the County Commissioners for not
providing enough funds to the Drug Task Force. Moreover, he enlisted other officials in this scheme. His theft and his lies have caused great damage to the Lancaster County law enforcement community, County government, and the rule of law in Lancaster County. It is a serious matter."
Lancaster County Board of Commissioners

Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Zarallo and Senior Deputy Attorney General Megan Madaffari prosecuted the case.

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